Guest Blog : Carnival Freedom

Mikey, of Mikeys Cruise Blog, has been kind enough to share his experiences on Carnival Freedom. We think this cruise sound great, Mikey sounds like he had a great time, so have a look ūüôā

Carnival Freedom was built in 2007, at a length on 290 meters carries 2974 passengers. As a member of the Conquest Class, Carnival Freedom has four other sister ships: Carnival Conquest, Carnival Valor, Carnival Glory and Carnival Liberty.


Embarkation started on Sunday, August 7, 2011 at 12:00. We arrived at the port around 1 and I quickly realized that we were docked at the (old and outdated) Princess Cruises terminal. After standing outside ¬†in the 90 degree heat for about 30 minutes we finally got through security, were pulled aside so my bag could be inspected (I was bringing some grape juice on board with me,) checked in, waited in line to get our room key’s pictures taken, walked up a gangway, and finally…I was on board. We soon departed and I even popped up to the top deck to give the Port Everglades Webcam a quick wave. I then started to unpack. We were in Cabin 1115 in a balcony cabin, the only way to cruise¬†comfortably. After our anytime time dinner, and I walk around the ship, I was tired from a long day of traveling, and went off to bed, to wake up the next morning in Key West.



The Carnival Freedom docked in Key West early Monday morning, and as soon as it seems we got there, a large thunderstorm rolled in. Watching from my balcony, fellow guests started to run back to the ship. We eventually got off the ship after the rains had passed, and walked around Key West for awhile, browsing shops, looking at roosters, and soaking in the hot sun! We soon decided to return to the ship, and then went to lunch on Lido. Later that night after dinner, we went to the show, which that night was just two of the singers…singing. They were very good, but we ended up leaving half way through, because we got tired. I could have sworn that the one singer was Clay Aiken…looked exactly like him.



I awoke later on Tuesday as it was our first sea day, and there really wasn’t much going on. After breakfast I decided to walk the entire ship in circles.
Literally, I walked from Deck 1 to Deck 11 in complete circles in under an hour. I later figured out that I walked about 2.8 miles. We tried to do some other activities later in the day, but we didn’t meet the 5 person minimum for the scavenger hunt, and we basically missed the other activity, which was a murder mystery game. So I went back to the room, and read my book for school on the balcony. You must be thinking, wow, your on a cruise, and you are just sitting on your balcony reading a book, well for some reason there were like no activities for anybody under the age of 18 that day, unless I wanted to go to a Tanzanite Seminar, which I chose not to. So off to dinner again with our amazing server, Charanet from Thailand, and then to bed. After just laying out in the sun all day, I was tired, and couldn’t wait for Grand Cayman!



So we pulled into Grand Cayman very early, and of course I didn’t wake up until around 9, so we had missed a chunk of time in Grand Cayman already. We soon disembarked the ship, and waited in a tender for about 10 minutes before it finally left the ship, and as¬†soon¬†as we got off the tender we went into the cruise terminal area. We had already decided before the cruise that Grand Cayman would be our beach day, so we then started to look for a tour that could take us to 7 Mile Beach. We eventually found one, and were hurried into a bus packed with other people. After about another 5 minutes of sitting there and some confusion between the bus driver, and the tour operator, we were off! We then later arrived at one of the public beaches along 7 Mile Beach, and journeyed down the shoreline to a more secluded area. We unpacked our things, and I was in the water within minutes. I have always loved Grand Cayman, and still do. This was my 3rd time being there, and I was so glad to be back in the warm, crystal clear water. There was even a coral reef like 10 feet from us where we could¬†snorkel! We just decided to do a beach in Grand Cayman, because we had already done the stingrays, and besides turtles and dolphins, there isn’t much else to do “water wise.” Unfortunately, our time had come to leave Grand Cayman, so we jumped back on a bus, and headed back to the port. We did walk around town for a minute, and eventually wandered back into the port area. We arrived just in time, because a humongous line was starting to form, and it was all for the Freedom, just the Freedom. We quickly jumped into line, and the line started to wrap around inside itself. We waited maybe a good 30-45 minutes in the blazing hot sun before we were able to get back on a tender. The line ended up being so long that the ship left the port about 30 minutes late, because so many people chose to get back on board like 30 minutes before the ship left. That would probably be the worst thing that could happen on a cruise, get left at a port where tendering is required. At least at a port with a dock you can try to chase down the ship, but at Grand Cayman that wasn’t going to happen.


About 2 hours after leaving Grand Cayman, the ship suddenly made a sharp right turn for about 5 minutes. I rushed onto the balcony to see what was going on, and noticed we had completely turned around. We turned on our stateroom TV, and noticed that we wer going 21knots (top speed) and were heading back towards Grand Cayman, my brother then called Guest Relations, and asked what was going on, we were told that there was a medical emergency, and we were heading back to Grand Cayman for a MedEvac. The next hour and a half went normal, and we were sitting at dinner, when the lights of Grand Cayman started to come into view. I left dinner momentarily to take some pictures, and a quick video. After we had finished dinner the ship started to pull back into the harbor of Grand Cayman. A tended boat was coming out to meet us, to evacuate the passenger who was ill. I was able to get a video of this unfolding, and even some video of the tender taking the man towards the sirens on the dock in Grand Cayman, which I will share below. The rest of the night went normal, they had a pretty good show that night, which was a show centered around jazz and swing. That was probably the worst of the 3 main shows, but it wasn’t horrible. I then went to bed later that night, and would soon be waking up in the one port that I had been looking forward to the most…Ocho Rios, Jamaica!


It was around 10:00 when I woke up, and we were just pulling into Ocho Rios and about to dock. Our arrival had been delayed from 8:00 to 10:30 after we had the medical evacuation on board the night earlier, but it didn’t matter because Carnival had called ahead to all of the shore excursion operators and explained the situation, and all of the tour except like 1 or 2 would still go on, and they would start as soon as the ship got there. I got up, and ran out of the room to grab some breakfast, because everybody was still either getting up, or sleeping. The lines were crazy when I got down there, so I ended up just getting some small things, but I gotta say I had probably the worst crescent roll I have ever had. We soon had all eaten breakfast, and we went down to the gangway to get off the ship. This was the day I had been looking for to all cruise. Today we had planned an excursion that would take us to climb Dunn’s River Falls, and then take us to Mystic Mountain where we would Bob Sled down the mountain side! I couldn’t wait! After about waiting around in the hot Jamaican sun for about 30 minutes we finally got onto a bus that would take us to Dunn’s River Falls. Our bus driver was funny and I was a bit scared because he was kind of¬†a crazy driver, but we finally got there, and that’s when were descended upon by a bunch of Jamaicans trying to sell us water. If you have been to Dunn’s you know exactly what I am talking about, and it gets worse later in this blog. After orientation we began to make our way to the falls. This ended up being almost an hour walk, after stopping multiple times for god knows what. We finally got to the entrance to the falls and we had to wait around for about another 30 minutes for him and the rest of our group, but we were soon on our way. We slowly climbed our way up the falls, with some cool surprises along the way, such as a natural water slide in the rocks, and even trust falls into a natural pool! We decided to take the hard way up, which was very challenging, but we made it! After we were done climbing, we started to make our way back to the bus, but because of the layout of the park, you have to go through…the market. As soon as we entered we were already being hovered around by 2 Jamaicans trying to sell us all of these things from their shops, and as we went along it started to feel like a haunted house, with people popping out at every corner telling you to buy things. We quickly made our way through and finally got to our bus, where we headed to Mystic Mountain for our Bob Sled adventure. When we got there, we headed for the chairlift that was to take us to the top of the mountain, and let me say, that was the longest, highest, scariest chairlift I have ever been on. As soon as we got to the top of the mountain, I bolted off that thing. After walking through the culture & history center, me breaking a magnet in the gift shop (oops ;),) and using the restrooms, we headed to the Bob Sleds. We got back on the ship like 30 minutes before it left, and went to lunch. The beautiful island of Jamaica was slowly fading away in the distance, and it started to dawn on me, that this was our last port, and tomorrow is our last day. I did my best to push this out of my mind, and I forgot this for a while. There was no show that night, so we ended up just strolling around the ship that night. I went to bed later that night, thinking of the great cruise I had so far, and was still thinking of the next great day that lay ahead of me.


I made sure I was up extra early Friday morning, as it was the last day of our cruise. I was sad, but I wasn’t going to think about it. I went and got breakfast, which was pretty fast considering it was around 9am and only about half the ship was up. So I came back to the cabin and just ate breakfast on the balcony. The ocean was¬†beautiful, and it was going by so quickly. The rest of the day went by pretty slow, we looked through the gift shops for some souvenirs, and went back to the cabin. For some reason there were like no¬†activities¬†planned that day, it was all shopping sales, and casino games. We later ended up going to the pool and water¬†slide, and playing around there for a while. After that I embarked on a quest around the ship to find “the lucky coin.” There is a lucky coin placed somewhere on every Carnival ship right out in the open, so everyone can see it, but it is hidden, and one must find it to see it. Sadly, I never did find it. I walked the entire top 3 decks of the ship looking for it, which is where they placed them in the past. I never did find it, or even find a hint on the internet to where it might be. ūüė¶ Anyway, the day was starting to come to a close, and we went to dinner. Service was very slow that night, which I didn’t really care about since it gave me more time to be in the Chic Restaurant one last time. The waiters did the usual routine, singing the “You’re Leaving Our Fun Ship,” and then dinner continued. After dinner we went to the last show of the cruise, “Ticket to Ride.” The entire show was a tribute to the Beatles, and it was by far, the best show I have ever seen on a cruise ship. You don’t even have to be a Beatles fan to like this show! The graphics and mini-shows were amazing! At one point the “Beatles” were running on stage, and jumped into the screen on stage, and become animated running around London! The best part was when some of the crew started hanging out glow sticks to everyone in the theater, and people were rocking out with these! It was a bunch of swaying glow sticks at Let it Be, and people using them as instruments to Obliddi Oblida. This was by far the best way to end one of my greatest cruises I have ever had! I went to bed later that night full of memories from that night, and all of the other nights before. This was definitely one of my best cruises ever, and I know that there are more to come.

Thanks Mikey for the great review, sounds like you had a great time on Carnival Freedom. I myself have never been on a Carnival Cruise and it is something I would like to experience, and I think Carnival Spirit when sailing out of Australia would be great!

If you want to see more from Mikey check his great blog –
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MSC Orchestra Ship Visit

Yesterday I was in London (Southampton) to visit MSC Orchestra, If you have been reading this blog for a while you may remember I visited MSC Opera earlier this year. I was given the chance to visit the MSC Orchestra while docked in London (Southampton) as it repositioned from Northern Europe.

MSC Orchestra is one of the four Musica Class cruise ships, the Muscia class is MSC’s middle-sized ship, the larger being the Fantasia Class, and the smaller being the Lirica Class (Which Opera was part of). The picture below should be to scale. The pictures are from the excellent


MSC Orchestra entered service in 2007, she was built in STX France, and was named as always with MSC ships by Sophia Lauren.

As always with ship visits it was in Southampton so I took the train down arriving at Southampton Ibis at 23.40 the night before, however unusually for this time the room wasn’t ready so I was offered free drinks from the bar untill it had been cleaned. I finally got into the room around 0.20, although I was happy to wait longer with free drinks. The Ibis, Etap and Novotel are all directly over the road from the station, so great if you just need an easy hotel room.

The following day I met with @Linerlovers and @BenMontgomeryCD, before going on board. It was nice to meet and have a quick chat without it fitting in twitters character requirements. Upon making our way to City Cruise Terminal it appeared that MSC Orchestra would be late due to bad weather, however MSC laid on snacks and drinks in the cruise terminal and we got a great view of the ship approaching the cruise terminal. It was nice to see some familiar faces from the MSC Opera visit (Yes, Black Card holders).

Once onboard we were led to the buffet area and fed. The plates are huge, so you can really just keep piling up, after all one of the most important things on a cruise is food! It was great to experience this restaurant as we had been to one of the main restaurants on MSC Opera, and it was nice to see what else was available.

Inside the ship has numerous bars and restaurants, as well as a larger casino. The main facilities are also spread across three main decks. The theatre onboard is of double height, with no posts blocking views, and the ship has a great waterfall in the Atrium and a cool glass piano. I really enjoyed the Casino, now I’m not a gambling man (Unless its thousands of pounds and a Mersey Ferry) and the Disco on the back of the ship has a great view and a cool feel. There was lots of open deck space around the pool, with an outdoor TV and a performance area, where you can take dances under the stars.

The tour was finished with drinks and a presentation about MSC Cruises and the other ships in the MSC fleet, This was great as we got to see more of what MSC provides on its Fantasia class ships РMSC Fantasia, MSC Spendidia and soon to be joined by MSC Divina. (Although we believe another Fantasia class ship will be joining soon more on that in our next blog) All the MSC Staff also took part in a question and answer session, as well as advising us of some upcoming offers such as All-Inclusive for £1, Which sounds like a great way of promoting the All-Inclusive packages.

It was a great day and you can notice the difference in size from MSC Opera, with more bars and facilities on board, hopefully the UK will get a Musica class sister soon (and maybe Liverpool as a departure point for some cruises…maybe…hopefully). So well done MSC staff for putting on a great day.

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Queen Mary 2 Ship Visit

Way back when I was young and cute,¬†I wrote to Cunard Line asking about the new Queen Mary 2. I used to write to loads of cruise lines and get quite a few free stuff, postcards, caps, etc. (Any of the photos you click on will get bigger ūüėÄ )

On New Years Eve, Just before the ship was named on 8th January 2003, Cunard Line called and asked if I would like to go on board on the 10th January with any guests, and my Dad and Uncle both decided they wanted to come along so we booked into the Travel Inn to spend the night.

The night in the Travel Inn, which has a great bar overlooking the city on the 5th Floor, we met the Piano player from the QM2 and then some engineers from the Caronia, and had a great night talking about ships and shipping.

The next day we made our way down to the Mayflower Terminal and were bussed to the QEII Terminal where the Queen Mary 2 was waiting. As this was before the maiden voyage and this was the ship of the decade, there was a lot of people. We made our way around the ship with a relatively free roam. I do remember parts of the ship still not being finished however, and we got to see the winter gardens, a variety of cabins including the Queens Grill accommodation.

We were also visited the various dining rooms and restaurants¬†on board including the Todd English with its great view over the stern and the pool area. I also enjoyed the promenade¬†with its classic¬†wooden ‘Steamer’ deck chairs, and I still want one for sitting out in the Garden! The Britannia¬†Dining room was amazing, I have never seen anything like it.We missed the planetarium¬†unfortunately.

We ended our tour in the Queens Room, enjoying some music and drinks, We had a window seat, and probably stayed on board a bit too long, but she is a wonderful ship, which draws a crowd where ever she goes. I still havent taken a cruise on her but its on the bucket list! QM2 With Lucy would be great too! As we were leaving the QEII Terminal the Orient Express was outside which in itself is an amazing sight.

She is calling into Liverpool next Thursday so no doubt I will pop down to see her again, she has an amazing imposing profile, just like her transatlantic predecessors. But just before I finish, Just for my friend Kim, here is a picture of me with the Homer Simpson, as discussed on the Tesco checkouts!

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What is so great about No-Fly Cruising?

Well its obvious, isn’t it? No Airplane, no flights, no airports. Now¬†we are¬†fans of avoiding the Airport, The queues, the shops, the gates, the lighting, na… We would rather not go to the Airport.

This appears however to be the view of an increasing amount of cruisers, while this has been popular in the States for some time, the European market has been slow to follow, however in the past few years ‘ex-UK’ or ‘No-Fly Cruising’ has taken off, with 40 ships operating from the UK on a total of 506 cruises during 2011. It is also our understanding that 40% of UK cruise passengers sail on a¬†no-fly cruise.

This rapid growth in cruising from the UK has meant that UK ports have been working hard to develop facilities for the ships, with Southampton adding to its five cruise terminals, and Portsmouth opening a new one, as well as ongoing problems regarding Liverpool’s Cruise terminal (check our previous article).

Southampton leads the way with 65% of all cruise departures from the UK, Royal Caribbean, P&O, MSC and Cunard all depart from here. The UK is perfectly positioned to operate cruises to Northern Europe, in the Norwegian Fjords, and to the Med, Across the Atlantic, or round the British Isles. We recently visited the MSC Opera which is currently operating out of Southampton (Check out our Ship Visit Article). RCI’s huge Independence of the Sea’s has also been operating out of Southampton.

However the only drawback from an Ex-UK cruise is that it can take¬†a long time (2/3 Days) for a Cruise ship to arrive in warmer climates, which for those who cruise to the sun, and be a large portion of their¬†holiday.¬†We think the strength of these no-fly cruises will benefit those who don’t like flying, we recently recommended this to a friend who hates flying. Also For Northern European Cruises to Amsterdam, Denmark and the Baltic, what better place to start your cruise.

With the rapid increase in fuel prices expected to continue, airfares are only expected to keep rising too, So we expect to see the growth of No-Fly Cruising to continue. This is also the belief of the Cruise Lines, who have home-ported more vessels in the UK than ever before.

If you are considering a No-Fly Cruise, there is a free book which may interest you available from, this is free and we have our own copy, very useful when making this article and suggesting possible cruises to people.

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Liverpool Cruise Terminal Woes
MSC Opera Ship Visit in Southampton


MSC Opera Ship Visit

If you are on Facebook, I suggest you like MSC Cruises, Or follow them on twitter. MSC have been arranging tours onboard the MSC Opera, and they are telling you about them through Facebook & twitter.

The ship visit was in Southampton, unfortunately living in Liverpool and not being able to drive, a 5 Hour train journey is required, so I decided to go down on the Monday and stay overnight in Southampton. I stayed in the etap hotel, which is a sister chain to Ibis, the hotel was basic but for one night at £39, it was value for money. The hotel is right over the road from the station and by the main shopping centre.

The MSC Opera was built in¬†2004 at Chantiers¬†de l’Atlantique, the same yard that build the Normandy and Queen Mary 2, So has true¬†Atlantic pedigree. She accommodates¬†2,000 passengers and has¬†740 Staff. As the last vessel in the Lirica¬†class her sisters are MSC Lirica, MSC Sinfonia and MSC Armonia. She has 4 restaurants, 6 bars and¬†2¬†pools.¬†MSC is a true European Cruise Line with its customers coming from across the EU.

The day started at Southampton’s City Cruise Terminal, where we where process through security and welcomed onboard the vessel. In total there was around 25 people on the tour, which included a mixture of new cruisers, regulars and travel agents.

The tour was conducted by one of the cruise¬†lines social hosts, who walked us around the various areas onboard, he provided an interesting¬†insight¬†into how each of the¬†lounges, bars and restaurants¬†worked when the vessel was on a cruise. My favourite room being the Disco, looking out over the back of the ship. The outside area ‘Il Patio open Restuarant’ was a great area next below the funnel.

MSC Opera has an excellent theatre with 99% of seats having unobstructed views (a few seats at the back are slightly obstructed). We were also shown some of the cabins; an inside double, outside double and outside twin. All other cabin grades were full. These rooms are decent sized, with large bathrooms.

Afterwards there was a short question and answer session, where you can ask questions about MSC’s cruise products across the fleet and offers available. Following this we were taken to the dining room for a six course lunch, wine and soft drink where also available.
The food was amazing, I had a delicious soup and the sirloin steak was the best I have ever had. MSC also has amazing real Italian Ice Cream which I recommend!

Overall I think the ship looks great and I would definitely recommend it, if the effort that was put into the ship visit is matched by the cruise you will have an excellent time.

MSC has 11 vessels, and MSC Opera is currently operating on cruises out of Southampton Exploring Northern Europe, the Baltics, and a new cruise sailing to Amsterdam, La Rochelle, Bilbao and La Coruna. Check if you are interested.

MSC has a very interesting all-inclusive package, which can make the cost of the cruise much more defined from the outset, and I think it is an interesting concept, one which I will write about in a future blog post sometime next week. We have also posted additional pictures from the day on our Facebook page so have a look.

The MSC Staff were really helpful and interesting, I would like to thank them for the great day ūüėÄ

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